Disaster specialists arrive on battered Dodecanese island The small Aegean island of Kassos suffered extensive damage over the weekend after heavy rains on Friday and Saturday caused two torrents to swell and overwhelm homes, roads and even the island’s port with rubble and mud. Four of the island’s five villages were left without water, roads across the island were destroyed and some 25 houses in the villages of Fri and Arvanitohori were flooded. Disaster specialists from the fire brigade’s EMAK unit arrived from Crete while other rescue workers came from Rhodes. An estimate of the damage is expected today. Meanwhile, the Merchant Marine Ministry issued another storm warning yesterday, saying winds of up to 9 Beaufort were expected in the central Aegean and south of Crete overnight. SMUGGLERS Six Ukrainian seamen convicted after Nina II cigarette seizure A court on the Cycladic island of Syros on Friday found six Ukrainian seamen guilty of smuggling 3,577 boxes of contraband cigarettes that were found during a coast guard raid last Monday aboard a truck carrier off the nearby island of Kythnos. The North Korean-flagged Nina II, which had been en route from Burgas in Bulgaria to Montenegro, was impounded along with its entire cargo. Captain Oleksandr Dyomkin was sentenced to three years in prison, and his five crewmen to two years each. All six appealed against the decision and were set free after paying bail, which was set at 8,000 euros for Dyomkin and 4,000 euros for his men. CYPRUS CHOPPER CRASH Memorial for five victims Cypriot Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos yesterday laid the cornerstone of a monument honoring Cyprus’s army and air force commanders and three other officers who died in a helicopter crash during the early hours of July 10. The Bell-206 helicopter carrying Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis and air force chief wing commander Stelios Demenagas, both seconded from the Greek army, and another three Cypriot national guard officers caught fire and crashed while attempting an emergency landing on its way to Paphos. Shop hours Shops will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow, for last-minute shopping before the New Year holiday. Road tax Vehicle owners who have still not bought their tax stickers for 2003 will be able to do so at tax offices today and tomorrow, as tax department employees have called off their strike. Those who miss the end of year deadline may have to pay a fine equal to the value of the sticker when they do buy it. N17 A lawyer representing three men detained pending trial for membership of the November 17 left-wing terrorist group is to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against aspects of the N17 investigation, the Sunday Eleftherotypia paper said yesterday. Ioannis Stamoulis, who represents Iraklis Costaris, Constantinos Karatsolis and Pavlos Serifis, also wants his clients to be tried by jury, instead of by a three-judge criminal court. Paying dues An appeal court has reduced the sentence of two officials of the TEBE merchants’ health and pension fund who had been convicted of defrauding the fund of 640 members’ fees, the Athens News Agency reported yesterday. In 2000, a court had sentenced Kyriakos Kellis, head of the TEBE branch in Xanthi in Western Thrace, to 13 years in prison while former TEBE employee Giorgos Blios was sentenced to eight years. The appeal court said that because Kellis and Blios had a clean record before the fraud was discovered their sentences should be reduced to eight years and five-and-a-half years, respectively. Both were fired from TEBE. Dis-servicemen Police yesterday arrested two soldiers in Xanthi who allegedly beat up a young woman in a robbery attempt and then tried to rob two Ukrainian sailors. Dimitris Karayiannakos, 24, and Alexandros Sapanidis, 36, allegedly pulled a 22-year-old woman into their car and demanded her bag, which contained money and a mobile phone. When she refused, they beat her and let her go. The crew of a police patrol car spotted them trying to hold up the two sailors with a screwdriver. Mayor, prefect Dora Bakoyianni is to be sworn in as Athens’s first woman mayor at a ceremony at City Hall at 11 a.m. today. At 12 noon, Fofi Yennimata will be sworn in as super-prefect of the Athens-Piraeus region at a ceremony at the War Museum. Economic policy Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is to outline at a press conference today Greece’s economic policy priorities following its assumption, on New Year’s Day, of the six-month rotating European Union presidency. Jackpot The state lottery company, OPAP, had still to hear by late yesterday from the unknown punter who won 2.5 million euros (851 million drachmas) in the Joker draw, as the only person to win the top prize. The winning lottery number was bought in Iraklion, Crete. Former MP dies PASOK former member of Parliament for Rethymnon, Crete, Haralambos Georgakakis, who served during the socialists’ first term in government from 1981 to 1985, died of cancer on Friday aged 59. Georgakakis also held the position of Aegean Ministry secretary-general.